Last Updated on February 28, 2021 by Cooper Fulton

How To Care For Pond Minnows

How To Care For Pond Minnows

Pond minnows are one of the most preyed on by other freshwater fish, which is not always a bad thing.

Pond minnows can be very helpful around a pond, by eating algae, and are prey to other fish in your pond.

To care for pond minnows you need to have clean oxygenated water, plenty of plants for shelter, floating plants to provide shade and keep the temperature low, and lastly, you need to feed them fish flakes one or two times a week.


Should I Put Minnows In My Pond?

Should I Put Minnows In Pond?

Minnows are a little different than a goldfish or a koi once in your pond.

I would recommend having minnows in a backyard pond. Minnows would reduce algae growth, act like prey, and add movement into your pond.

Having too many minnows would lead to overcrowding and make your pond water murky and quite unpleasant to the eye.

First off, you don’t need to feed them fish food, second, they are usually used for bait when in a bass and bluegill pond. This will make your bass and bluegill growth rate increase greatly.

When you try to catch them they will usually dart under a rock and can be quite difficult to remove if you ever want to remove them from your pond ecosystem. 

If you are creating a pond specifically for bass or any other panfish, then yes, they are a great source of food and they also eat mosquito larvae as a bass or a panfish will not which will keep your pond clean.


How To Care For Pond Minnows

How to care for pond minnows

1. Oxygenate Water

If you want your minnows to survive, they are going to need plenty of oxygen. I recommend installing an oxygenator or waterfall to provide oxygen to your water. These are not required but will improve the likelihood of your minnows surviving.

2. Add plants

Adding plants will not only provide shelter for your minnows but will also keep the temperature down. Some popular plants to provide shade that I recommend are water lilies and water lettuce. For submerged plants that will provide shelter and oxygen, I recommend hornwort and red rotala.

3. Provide Food

Minnows do not need to be fed but doing so will increase their likelihood of surviving and also increase their reproduction rate. Any fish flakes will do the job and only need to be fed once or twice a week. If you don’t want to go out and buy fish flakes, surprisingly minnows also love oatmeal.

4. Keep Predators Away From Pond

The number one cause for the loss of minnows is predators eating them. The easiest solution for this is is to add in hiding spots for the minnows, this can be done with plants or added rock shelters. If you are interested in other useful methods, I have written a full guide on how to keep your pond predator-free.


How Do Minnows Get Into Ponds?

The most common way minnows get into ponds is from freshwater birds, such as ducks, geese, or herons. These birds sometimes have minnow eggs stuck to their feet and they will fall off once they land in your pond. 

Another way minnows could enter your pond would be, an animal could walk by your pond and take a drink of water, but had previously eaten some minnow eggs and some of those eggs happened to fall into your pond.


How Fast Do Minnows Reproduce?

Minnows have one of the highest reproduction rates out of any animal.

Minnows reproduce on average every 4-5 days. Each spawn a female minnow will produce between 150-200 fry meaning after just one month you could see up to 1,000 new minnows. 

At this rate, minnows can easily take over a pond and it is recommended that you add a predator. A small bass or bluegill will do the trick and should be able to maintain your growing minnow problem.


Male vs. Female Minnows

Male and female minnows are easily mistaken because of their similarities. Both males are females are close to the same size with males being slightly larger when fully grown.

Male minnows are slimmer but still larger than the females, the colors of a male are darker or are more visible than the female color. The females’ dorsal and anal fin is more rounded while the males are more pointed.


Do Minnows Eat Algae?

Yes, minnows will eat algae along with an assortment of other aquatic plants, insects, and mosquito larvae.

If you have a minnow pond, it would be okay not to purchase food for the minnow as it would still live on algae and other insects/larvae that happens to land into the pond.

Do not expect the minnows in your pond to contain all of the algae, as while they do eat the algae, they are still small fish and cannot control an entire ponds’ worth of algae.


Drawbacks of Minnows in a Pond

Drawbacks of Minnows in a Pond

Fast Reproduction

If you do not have a predator fish to control the minnow population, they will easily take over your whole pond.

Minnows reproduce incredibly rapidly, every 4-5 days to be exact, and release about 150 Minnows per spawn they also produce a lot of waste.

This waste will settle at the bottom of your pins and will turn the water very murky and will give off a dark tinge into the water.


Minnows Diet

Minnows can also grow large enough to eat other fish eggs in your pond.

Many people want to have and grow babies in their pond but if you have minnows there will be no chance of that.

Minnows are also known to eat anything they can, this goes for every plant in your pond.

The minnows will start by taking little bites of leaves or the stalk of a plant.

Once there is a starting place, all of the minnows will try to get a bite out of the plant until the plant dies or is eaten completely.

If you have incorporated other fish in your pond like koi and goldfish, I recommend purchasing this fish food called Koi Vibrance.

Koi Vibrance enhances the color of all the fish in your pond, It’s not terribly expensive, I’ve been using it for a while now and I’ve seen slots more color and vibrancy in my ponds.


Disease Carrying Minnows

Minnows are known to carry diseases that are a real danger for any other fish in your pond.

If a predator fish eats an infected minnow, it could cause some serious health problems to your fish and it could die.

If the disease is released in the minnows feces, the disease could be released into your entire pond and all of the other fish in the pond will be exposed to the disease.

You know what they say “better safe than sorry”. Usually, you do not have to worry about your minnows having a disease, as long as your minnows are from a safe creek, pond, or store-bought.


Benefits of Minnows in a Pond

Benefits of Minnows in a Pond

Algae and Insect Control

Minnows eat essentially anything they come across, this includes algae, insects, and mosquito larvae.

These little fish will eat the algae that are growing in your pond and help stop them from taking over the entire pond.

Minnows also eat mosquito larvae which will keep the mosquito population around your pond at a slow and steady level.

Nobody wants to have mosquitos flying around when you’re sitting next to your pond or tending to it. You will want to be enjoying what you have created or what you are creating.


Pond Minnows as Baitfish

Minnows are one of the best fish to stock a pond with.

If you have the mindset that they will be used to rapidly increase the growth of your game, fish, such as; bass or any other pond fish.

The best minnow to use is the fathead minnow. The fathead minnow grows large in size and is a lot slower than other minnows, which makes it an easy meal for your fish to feed on.

The Fathead minnow is basically a snack that is waiting to be eaten.


Types of Pond Minnows

types of pond minnows

Fathead Minnow

A fathead minnow has an achromatic appearance of light green/grey.

It has a hazy spot midway on his dorsal fin. Fathead minnows are distributed across Mexico to the provinces of maritime.

These minnows eat insects, crustaceans, and zooplankton. The fathead minnow can also withstand severe weather conditions.

These minnows could be found in creeks or waste drainage sites that are uninhabitable to other types of fish.


Mosquito Minnow

Mosquito minnows are small and have a grey tint.

They have a big abdomen and they have circular dorsal and caudal fins and their mouth is curved upward.

They eat zooplankton, small insects and insect larvae, dead organic material, and as they suggest, mosquito larvae.

An adult mosquito minnow can eat hundreds of mosquitoes per day. That’s about 50% of their body weight.

These minnows were brought into the ecosystems in many parts of the world to try and lower the mosquito population, although in doing so, it negatively affected other species in these specific ecosystems.

These mosquito minnows are about average compared to all the other minnows at 4 inches long.


White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The white cloud minnow has a shiny green color with bright red fins.

These white cloud minnows are one of the smallest minnows, growing up to only 1.5 inches.

The minnows are omnivores and will feed on water plants as well as insect larvae.

These do very well in ponds especially ponds that are meant for frogs to be bred.


Spottail Shiner

Spottail Shiner fish are a mix of silvery-dark and light green in color.

The size range on these fish is about 2-3 inches. They usually hang around the bottom of the water or rocky/sandy shorelines.

These fish are omnivores s their diet consists of filamentous algae, aquatic insects, and larvae.


Common Minnow

The common minnow is a relatively small minnow only growing up to about 3 inches.  It has a brown color with black lateral lines and spots.

The common minnow is known to school up to stay protected from predators.

If a predator is near a group of schooling minnows the minnows can sense the predator. The minnows send off a chemical that is picked up by the other minnows in the group that warns them about the predator.

The common minnow is found in cold water that is well oxygenated such as a stream of the fast-moving creek.

Common minnows do not make good minnows to keep in a pond unless you have fast-moving water and the water is cold year-round.


Creek Chub

The creek chub minnow has a white stomach and a green/black body.

It also has lots of black stripes running from the nose to the tail, the creek chub is one of the biggest minnows at 5 to 7 inches long.

Some creek chubs have, or what looks like a black mustache over their lips or a black dot on their dorsal fins.

The scales on this minnow are quite uncommon that helps it protect itself and swim incredibly quickly when it needs to.

The Creek Chub is an omnivore that has a large mouth and will eat whatever comes its way.

They are usually classified as school fish, and usually school from a child to even early adult life.